The Best Preventive Measures Against Skin Cancer

Preventive Measures Against Skin Cancer

More than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the United States, according to data from the American Academy of Dermatology, and over a lifetime, about one-fifth of all people will develop the disease. There are three basic types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (the most common), squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma (the rarest but most deadly type). While not all skin cancers turn out to be life-threatening, they can still cause disfigurement, and even less “dangerous” types of skin cancer can become more serious if left untreated.

While today, there are many more options for skin cancer treatment than there were even just a decade ago, obviously it’s much better to avoid developing skin cancer in the first place. And that means doing all you can to reduce your risks for the disease. With the summer season just around the corner, that means there’s a good chance you’ll be spending more time in the sun. And since May is also National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s also a great time to review some important tips you can adopt to reduce your risks for skin cancer this summer and all year long.

Wear sunscreen — the right way

This one may seem obvious, but the fact is, to really get the benefits of sunscreen, you need to use it the right way. That means applying it every day before you go out, regardless of how cold or warm it is out, and regardless of whether or not it’s sunny or cloudy (since dangerous UV rays can easily penetrate cloud cover). And you also need to apply the right amount. Statistics show most people only use about a quarter of the amount of sunscreen that they should in order to glean its benefits. A basic rule of thumb: Most people of average weight need about an ounce of sunscreen to cover the exposed areas of their skin. That’s about the same amount that would fit in a full shot glass. If you’re wearing really skimpy clothing or you have more skin surface, you’ll need more. As far as the type of sunscreen, choose one that’s water-resistant, has an SPF of 30 or greater, and offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The AAD offers more information on sunscreen selection here.

Time your sun exposure

If you plan to spend some time outdoors, try to limit your sun exposure during the hours when the sun’s rays are strongest — generally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., although the later afternoon hours can still be plenty strong. Also, pay attention to the UV index included with most weather forecasts or use the UV index site provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Wear protective clothing

Another way to protect your skin is to keep it covered up while you’re in the sun. Wearing bathing suit cover-ups, long-sleeved shirts and hats with wide brims can protect you from at least some of the sun’s rays, but bear in mind that light fabrics can still allow the UV rays to penetrate. And remember that while any type of hat is good for protecting your scalp, only a hat with a brim all the way around will help keep the sun off your neck and your ears, a common area for skin cancer to show up.

Pay attention to your medications

Some medicines can actually make your skin more sensitive to the sun and the UV rays it emits. If you're taking any type of medication, including ointments or skin patches, ask your doctor or pharmacist if they interact with sun exposure.

Have regular skin cancer screenings

Professional skin cancer screenings are one of the most important ways to identify cancerous lesions in their very earliest stages, when treatment is most effective. Screenings take just a few minutes, and you should have a screening once a year (or more frequently if you have significant risk factors for skin cancer). Don’t rely on DIY techniques; skin cancers can be hard to detect without medical training, so schedule an annual visit for the most protection and greatest peace of mind.

Protecting your skin from too much sun exposure is one way to make sure you and your skin stay healthy. Scheduling routine skincare treatments is another important way to always look and feel your best. To learn more about the skincare treatments at Dutch Hollow Medical Day Spa, including treatments to help minimize the effects of sun damage, book an appointment online today.

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